Unusual Economic Indicators: You might have heard about indicators like the Big Mac Index (if you haven’t, you can read our previous article). However, there are many other lesser-known indicators that can actually provide valuable insights and are helpful for the economy.

Today, we’ll introduce you to some unusual economic indicators that might predict the economic conditions. Keep reading to find out what they are!

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Most Unusual Economic Indicators

1. Lipstick Indicator Index

The Lipstick indicator was coined by Leonard Laude, one of the billionaire heirs and chairman of the Estée Lauder cosmetics fortune, in the 2001 recession.

What is it? Back in the autumn of 2001, he noticed that when the US economy was struggling due to the recession, lipstick sales were actually going up instead of down.

Lauder believed that lipstick sales and the economy’s health are inversely proportional—when the economy got worse, lipstick sales got better.

This indicated that when women faced economic uncertainty, they tended to buy more affordable beauty products like lipstick and less luxury goods like handbags, shoes, or dresses.

What is the proof?

The evidence for this idea includes an 11% increase in lipstick sales at mass retailers when Lauder introduced the indicator. Major cosmetics brands also experienced a sales boost in the early 2000s during the US recession.

2. Garbage Indicator

The concept is pretty simple! The garbage indicator suggests that when people have more money, they buy more things, and consequently, they throw away more. As wealth increases, individuals tend to spend and consume more. The projection is that a growing economy will lead to higher garbage disposal.

What is the proof?

According to a 2010 Bloomberg report by economists Michael McDonough and Carl Riccadonna, the correlation between garbage and GDP was as high as 82% between 2001 and 2012.

3. Champagne Index

This Champagne index basically looks at whether consumers are purchasing luxury or premium goods, providing insights into market sentiment. 

Champagne sales are typically linked to rising income levels in the economy and the name comes from the idea that people often celebrate by opening a bottle of champagne.

The trend is that champagne sales decrease during a recession. Since champagne is considered a luxury item, people are more inclined to buy it during good economic times with optimistic prospects for future growth. 

Whereas in tough economic conditions, individuals are less likely to spend money on champagne and other luxury items.

4. First Date Indicator

When the economy turns down and sentiment falls, people often attempt to go on a date as a way to find comfort, avoid feeling sad, or overcome a sense of loneliness.

This indicator essentially focuses on the number of people who attempt to get into relationships to feel better when the economy is not functioning properly.

What is the proof?

The dating website had its busiest time in more than seven years during the fourth quarter of 2008. There was a similar increase in traffic on Match.com in late 2001, just after the September 11 attacks.

5. Unclaimed Corpse Indicator

Here’s another unusual way to understand the economic conditions: The idea is that when funerals are too expensive, many families do not claim the bodies of the deceased, and the government has to pay for costs and bury them at such times of crisis.

What is the proof?

During tough times, like the 2009 financial crisis, Detroit saw a rise in the number of unclaimed bodies at its morgue, and the government spent a massive amount of money on burials. At that time, the costs of burials nearly doubled in over a two-month period compared to 2008.

It doesn’t end here; there are other weird indicators like the Guns to Caviar Indicator, Baby Diaper Rash Index, Buttered Popcorn Index, and many more that are used to figure out how the economy is doing.

Can you think of any other weird or odd economic indicators?

Written By Shivani Singh

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